The Irrawaddy

Myanmar Rescue Team Joins Search for Thai Footballers Missing in Cave

A Myanmar rescue team searches for a group of missing Thai footballers in a cave in Tachileik, Shan State on Thursday.

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A Myanmar rescue team on Thursday joined the search for 12 missing Thai youth footballers and their coach, who are believed to be trapped inside Tham Luang Cave near the border between Myanmar and Mae Sai district in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province.

The team is participating in the operation at the request of the Thai government.

Thai authorities requested the assistance because exits from the cave are believed to be located on the Myanmar side of the border, in Shan State’s Tachileik District.

Also on Thursday, the Myanmar President’s Office announced that it had ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Shan State government to cooperate fully with Thai authorities in searching for the group.

“Thai authorities said they have heard there are exits on the Myanmar side as well, and asked them to check whether the missing people were in the area. The search is now under way,” said U Tun, Thai-Myanmar liaison officer at the Tachileik District Administration Office.

The Myanmar rescue team comprises local officials and workers from the Fire Department, Red Cross and various charities. They have begun the search in a cave that is believed to be connected to Tham Luang Cave, where the group of 13 has been missing for six days.

Meanwhile on the Thai side, volunteers and military teams including 45 Thai Navy SEALs have been deployed at the flooded cave complex, which runs for 10 km (6 miles) under a mountain in the northern province, Reuters reports.

The US military has also sent a search and rescue team at the request of the Thai government.

On Thursday, Thai PBS quoted government spokesman Lieutenant-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd as saying that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha planned to visit the cave either Friday or Saturday to meet with families of the missing and to give moral support to the rescue teams.